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How to Build a Kayak Rack for an RV

Last Updated on October 20, 2022 by Donnell Henderson

A kayak rack for an RV is something we knew we needed. We loved our awesome fishing kayak which we had a few years before we got our RV. We have a Class B RV, which means that it’s towing-friendly and can fit in any standard parking space. In 2010, when we bought it, this was a big selling point for us because we knew we’d be traveling around on the weekends, making it easier to go kayak fishing wherever we wanted. Before then, we had a small Toyota pickup truck, which wasn’t made for traveling, hauling gear, or anything like that.

We built our kayak rack for our RV as soon as we bought it, so it’s been with us since day one. It’s made of several pieces of wood connected with straps and screws; the whole thing can be taken apart easily so that it can be stored in an upright position when not in use. It’s held up perfectly for five years now; we’re only thinking about replacing it because the paint has begun to chip off in some places due to water and dirt. The next one we make will make allowances for the new tandem fishing kayak we just bought.

DIY Kayak Rack for Your RV (Option 1)

DIY Kayak Rack for RV

What You Will Need

  • Plywood
  • 2x4s
  •  Wood screws
  •  Spray paint/stain (optional)
  •  Foam board (optional)

1. Assemble the Tray

The first step in assembling the tray is to take the two pieces of 1/4″ plywood and connect the edges with screws. We used a drill to provide a pilot hole before we screwed in the screws, which will help prevent them from splitting the wood. The overall dimensions of the wood should be 18″ x 28″. After you’ve screwed in all four corners, flip the assembly over, and secure it to your worktable using clamps.

2. Use Empty Milk Crates

It’s hard to find good and affordable kayak racks for RVs, but we were lucky enough to stumble upon some milk crates that fit perfectly. Here’s how to build your own.

  • Take the two bottom crates and place them together mouth-to-mouth with their short sides facing up.
  • Take the two top crates and place them together mouth-to-mouth, short sides again facing up (no photo of this step).
  • Grab the four L brackets and place two of them on top of a bottom crate, with their screw holes on the outside and their curve facing inward towards you.
  • Place a top crate on top of each L bracket, lining up their notches with the shaped cutouts in the L bracket.
  • Put screws through the bracket’s holes and into the notches of the top crate. You’ll need longer than usual screws for this, so if you don’t have any lying around, you can pick some up at any hardware store for about $1 per 8-pack.

3. Strap Your Kayaks Down

  • First, measure your kayaks
  • You need three pieces of 2x4s for the uprights
  • Cut each 2×4 into two pieces about 36 inches long
  • Then, cut four more pieces of 2×4 about 3 feet long for the crosspieces
  • Next, measure where you want the rack to be mounted
  • Decide whether you want it centered on the wall or closer to one end of the trailer
  • Mark the spots where you’ll need to drill holes into the wall—three on each side (for our four crosspieces) and one in the center for a vertical piece that will support both crosspieces
  • Drill holes for all of your crosspieces first before setting them in place.

Things to Consider

Kayaking is a great way to enjoy being out on the water. But transporting your kayak from your house to the water can be a hassle. This is where an RV kayak rack comes in handy. The first step is deciding where to put your RV kayak rack. There are two popular options: on a hitch for use with a vehicle or on the back of the RV itself. Each has its pros and cons, which we’ll go into later. Next, you need to buy or build your rack. Once it’s installed, you’ll have to load the kayak onto the rack and secure it, so it doesn’t move while you’re driving.

DIY Carrier Rack System (Option 2)

You don’t always need to buy a commercial kayak carrier; sometimes, you can make your own using an old piece of furniture and a few tools. First, you’ll need to choose an empty bookshelf, closet shelf, or other support structure that can hold the weight of your kayak. You’ll also need an L-shaped bracket that will hold the rack in place on the wall of your RV, and a few small pieces for building the rack itself.

You’ll want to start by deciding how long you’d like the rack to be—it should be long enough to fit both sides of your kayak by the side. You can build one long rack as shown in Option 1 (see below), two shorter racks as shown in Option 2 (see above), or any combination of these options that would work for your fishing kayaks and your RV.

Next, determine how wide you’d like the rack to be by measuring the width of your kayaks at their widest point. You’ll want a little extra space on either side so they’re not touching each other while mounted on the rack.

What You Need

  • 12′ lengths of 2×4 and 2×6 lumber -2 8′ long
  • 1″ diameter pipe sections
  • Carpenter’s glue
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Screw-in hooks for hanging your baskets
  • Jig saw
  • Drill with screwdriver attachment
  • Power drill
  • Pencil or pen to mark your cuts

1. Bumper Sleeve

A bumper sleeve is a great option if you want to jazz up the look of your kayak rack while also making it more useful. The best part is that it’s made out of a piece of tubing that costs just over $1, but the cost will vary depending on your rack. Sizing the sleeve to fit your rack is easy: measure the diameter of your rack, then subtract an inch or so for room to slide the insert in and out.

2. Kayak Pads

Pads for your kayak are pretty simple: They serve to protect the hull of the kayak, especially from scratches and marks, as well as to protect its owner from accidental bumps and scrapes from rocks, docks, and other structures.

Plain old foam pads are functional and affordable, but they don’t do much for the look of your kayak. Makes it easier to apply and remove the pads, making them more versatile—they’re great for a trip downriver or even just a quick paddle on the local lake.

3. Bike Rack Pads

Bike rack pads are made to protect walls from scratches and nicks that bike racks can leave behind. They typically have a slightly rubbery surface and a foam backing, so they can be cut to shape and adhere easily with a little bit of double-sided tape. You can buy them in bulk at places like Home Depot or Lowes, but by making your own custom ones, you can make sure they’ll fit perfectly (and look nice) on your wall.

4. Bike Rack Fixtures

This rack can be installed on any wooden fence or wall you may have. It is made from cedar and galvanized pipe for a rustic, sturdy look. This rack offers several bars that can hold multiple bikes no matter the size, including kids’ bikes, tandem bikes, and more. The bars are spaced so that the bikes stay upright and do not fall over while not in use.

5. Camper Back Wall Attach Bar

The Camper Back is great for attaching an RV Awning to your vehicle. It’s an aluminum bar that connects to the Camper Back and provides a secure connection for the awning. The bar has threaded holes, which will accept one of the 13 different Awning Slide Rails. The Slide Rails allow the Awning to be attached at varying heights along the Camper Back. This customization allows you to choose how much shade or ventilation you want depending on the weather and your needs.

6. Kayak Connect-Hold Down Bar

The Kayak Connect-Hold Down Bar is a great way to improve your kayaking experience. It holds your kayak onto the roof of your car and makes it easier to get it on and off. Many people don’t realize this little bar’s importance until they try to put their kayak on top of their car without it.

Things to Note

When you’re ready to build the rack, a helpful hint is to take a picture of the plan or draw it out if you’re not much of an artist. When you have all the tools set up and your materials ready, take a picture of them. This will be very helpful when it’s time to put everything together.

Carry Kayaks on Your RV’s Roof

Carrying kayaks on a roof rack is really easy and can save you a lot of money. Fishing kayaks are bulky and heavy, so fitting them in an RV’s storage area can be difficult. Roof racks make it simple to carry kayaks when you have limited space. You can buy or even build your own roof rack to fit your vehicle, but if you don’t have time for the building part, DIY Rooftop Racks has a variety of high-quality, inexpensive options available on Amazon.

Measurement is Key

Measurement is key to carrying kayaks on an RV’s roof. If you’ve got a Class A motor home, measure your roof to see how many inches of clearance you have between the rubber roof and the slides. If you’re hauling a Class C, measure from the top of your door jams to make sure there’s enough space for your roof rack.

Attach the Pool Noodles

Pool noodles are a cheap, easy way to improvise a kayak carrier. First, wrap the pool noodle around the kayak, sort of like you would use a bungee cord. Next, secure everything with duct tape. Finally, tie your straps around the noodle (not directly on the kayak) and tie it to your roof rack for travel.

Place Your Kayak

Before loading up your vehicle with a kayak, make sure that the total weight of everything in addition to the weight of the vehicle, will not exceed the maximum weight capacity of your vehicle’s hitch system. This information should be available in the Owner’s Manual for your car or RV and in the instructions that come with the kayak carrier itself.


Q: How are the kayaks loaded?

A: They are lowered into a well on the top of the rack.

Q: Does it work on Class B?

A: Yes, but you have to have a “cargo box” in the back of your RV. A cargo box is a sheet metal piece that helps reinforce and protect your RV from the stuff in your cargo area. This can be purchased from most major RV manufacturers.

Q: Will this work with my Class A?

A: It will work if you have the same type of cargo box as Class B. If not, then you probably won’t be able to use this rack because there won’t be anything for the tie-downs to connect to.


A kayak rack for an RV is a great way to bring the adventure of kayak fishing to your next trip. If you are like me and love kayak fishing but hate the hassle of loading and unloading your boat, this will make your life much easier. Keep a few things in mind, and you will love kayaking more!

You need some materials like EMT steel pipe, DIY RV kayak rack, and build a kayak rack. If you want to carry two kayaks at a time then double hitch receiver and truck bed extender is necessary. You should also look for rear-mounted racks and steel angle iron. For the safety of your kayaks, you need foam pipe insulation and cargo rack.

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